Professional rental agents agree that a written lease agreement recording all the salient and agreed terms should always be a prerequisite – regardless of who your tenants are.
All parties must be sign the agreement by before tenants occupy the premises.
Dexter Leite, Pam Golding Properties regional manager, Western Cape Rentals, says: “Simply put, I would suggest treating a rental lease to a family member as you would any other arm’s length transaction.
“You need to carry out all the necessary and relevant checks, as you would do for any would-be tenants. You also need to treat any tenancy default as you would in the case of any non-family tenant.”
Rawson Properties’ National Rentals Manager, Jacqui Savage, agrees that renting property to a family works through the same process used when renting to any other individual.
“Renting a home should be a rewarding experience for you and your tenants. For any rental agreement to be successful, all parties involved need to know what their responsibilities are and then commit to them – irrespective of whether the tenants are family members or not.
“It’s always important to have a solid lease agreement in place. The agreement needs to cover the basics and must stipulate the terms of the rental agreement, the monthly rental amount, deposits, limitations or restrictions.”
Incoming and outgoing inspections are another essential aspect of any rental and are required by law under the Rental Housing Act.
Savage emphasises that incoming inspections are not just about ensuring everyone knows which skirtings are scratched and where cracked tiles are.
“These inspections lay the foundation for rules and expectations for the rental period, which is very necessary to keep things professional from the start and establish a level of trust.
“It is absolutely essential that the tenants and the landlord – or the rental agent – are present for incoming and outgoing inspections. If tenants don’t attend the inspections, they can’t prove they didn’t cause the damage in question. If landlords or rental agents don’t attend, they can’t prove that the damage wasn’t already there when the tenants moved in. Meticulously-recorded incoming and outgoing inspections put paid to these kinds of disagreements, but they need to be thorough to be effective,” says Savage.
Most tenants and landlords have a reasonable understanding of their obligations when it comes to the repairs and maintenance of a rental property.
“Day-to-day upkeep and consumables like light bulbs are the tenants’ responsibility, whereas structural maintenance and faulty fixtures are the landlord’s problem,” says Savage.
“However, there can be some blurred lines between what is considered normal upkeep for the tenant and structural maintenance or repair for the landlord. Hammering out these details during the lease-signing process could potentially save you a lot of trouble down the line.
“Clarifying all the salient points at the outset is in everyone’s best interests and really helps maintain a positive relationship between tenants and landlords,” says Savage.
If you are letting your rental property to family members, making sure everything is quite clear from the start is probably even more critical than if you rented to total strangers.